How To Make Refrigerator Flush With Cabinets

The refrigerator is often one of the bulkiest appliances in the kitchen, and it often juts out of the cabinets awkwardly. We’ve looked into this issue, and in this post, we will be sharing with you some tips on how you can position your refrigerator flush with the cabinets, as well as what you can do to make your kitchen easy to move around in.

If you are remodeling your kitchen, one of the best ways to make the refrigerator flush with the cabinets is by recessing the back wall that your refrigerator sits against. Otherwise, a great way to make your refrigerator flush with the cabinets is by upgrading your old refrigerator into a counter-depth refrigerator.

Knowing that there are different options for making the refrigerator look flush against the cabinets can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve listed down some tips and ideas on how you can do this for your home. Keep reading as we also talk about how much space you will need, as well as what you can do with the gaps in your fridge and cabinets.

Steel office kitchen with wooden floor and refrigerator, sink, apples, blender, kettle, How To Make Refrigerator Flush With Cabinets

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How To Make Refrigerator Flush With Cabinets

Recently, there has been a new trend of making built-in cabinets and appliances in the kitchen. This style has become so popular because of its modern look, as well as the sleek design and seamless integration of the appliances with the cabinets and counters. This makes it easier to walk around the kitchen without bumping into things.

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Modern Kitchen design with open concept and bar counter

Counter-depth Refrigerators

Because of this new trend in kitchen design, numerous adjustments and advancements have been made to make the appliances level with the counter. For refrigerators, this is what we call a counter-depth refrigerator. They are a lot shallower than your regular refrigerators because they are made to have the same dimensions as the standard counter.

If you are planning to replace your refrigerator and you’d like to have them look built-in or flush with your cabinets, then it would be a good investment to go with a counter-depth refrigerator. There are different sizes for counter-depth refrigerators, and you can typically find one that matches the dimensions of your counter.

Most counter-depth refrigerators will measure about 25 inches deep, similar to the depth of standard built-in counters and cabinets. However, the difference with counter-depth refrigerators is that they might be a bit wider and taller than standard refrigerators because they have to compensate for the shallow box.

Check out this counter-depth French door refrigerator on Amazon.

Recessed Wall

American fridge freezer set into a bank of cream coloured cupboards in a farmhouse-style kitchen

However, if you are planning to still use your standard refrigerator but you’d like to make it look built-in to your cabinets, then a little construction work is what you need to do. Standard refrigerators are generally bigger and deeper than the previously discussed counter-depth refrigerators, so the cabinets and the walls will have to adjust to make them fit.

If you are looking to make your current standard refrigerator appear flush with your cabinets, you can do this by recessing the back wall where your refrigerator is sitting. Typically, removing this back wall will give you a few extra inches to push the refrigerator backward, making it look more flush against your cabinets.

Measure Counters to Standard Fridge Size

Unfortunately, not all kitchens can have the back wall recessed this way. If your refrigerator is sitting against an exterior wall, or the wall is load-bearing or has structural posts behind it, then this might not be a good idea. It also will not work if you have plumbing or you have other utility systems sitting right behind that wall.

Should this be the case and you still want to stick with your standard refrigerator, then another idea to make it look flushed with your cabinets is by remodeling the cabinets themselves. If the situation allows, you can measure your cabinets and counters to fit your standard refrigerator, and it should make everything in your kitchen look built-in.

How Much Space Is Needed Between The Refrigerator And Cabinets?

Having your refrigerator flush against the cabinets looks great aesthetically, but you should also remember to provide ventilation clearances for your appliances. This is particularly important for the refrigerator because, without proper ventilation, you can ruin your fridge, and it will consume more energy to keep working.

Before you decide to push your refrigerator flush against the wall, make sure you’ve taken into consideration the measurements for the ventilation clearance. The refrigerator cannot be pushed flat against the wall on the back, the top, and on both sides.


The back of your refrigerator is where the airflow for the appliance happens. It has condenser coils that allow the refrigerator to release heat, and covering this area might cause the appliance to malfunction. Make sure to leave at least one or two inches of ventilation clearance to the rear of your refrigerator to allow proper airflow.


The top of the refrigerator should also have clearance. Not only will you be unable to move the refrigerator without this clearance, but the gap on the top of the refrigerator also allows airflow to the appliance. Keep a half-inch to one-inch gap on the top of your refrigerator and the cabinets.


The sides of your refrigerator need the most clearance because you won’t be able to properly open the doors without it. For standard refrigerators or counter-depth refrigerators that are wide, make sure to leave about four-and-a-half to five inches of side clearance to allow your doors to open fully.

Newer models of refrigerators nowadays can be found with zero-clearance doors. If the appliance that you bought has this functionality, you will only need about one-quarter-inch to one-half-inch on the side for ventilation. However, just to make it safe, give your refrigerator at least one-inch side clearance to give your appliance some ventilation space.

What Do You Do With The Space Between The Refrigerator And Cabinets?

Upscale Maple Red kitchen spice rack drawer vertical cabinet with mill jars of spices and groceries

Now that we’ve established that your refrigerator needs space, some homeowners find that these gaps can be a bit distracting. They are bare spaces, and some people wonder if they can utilize and maximize the use of these gaps.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways where you can fill these gaps between the refrigerator and your cabinets. Before choosing something to fill these gaps, make sure that you are not covering the ventilation clearance of your refrigerator.

Pull-out Cabinets

person pov view woman hand open new brown kitchen drawer by modern door handle, with different cutlery take spoon to prepare

If the space between your refrigerator and your cabinets is a bit too wide (this does happen if you change into a thinner, sleeker refrigerator), then you might be wondering what to do with all that space. The best way to work this space is by adding extra storage.

Depending on the width of the space between your refrigerator and cabinets, you can find the appropriate sized pull-out cabinets for your kitchen. They are easy to install, and the added storage should make it easy for you to further organize your pantry and kitchen supplies.

Check out this pull-out cabinet filler on Amazon.

Trim Kits

These trim kits are frames that are made to be around your refrigerator to hide the gaps between the cabinets. They are typically custom-made to fit certain refrigerator models, but you can also find them in different finishes to match either your counters or cabinets.

See this trim kit on Amazon.

Filler Strips

Sometimes, the space between the refrigerator and the cabinets can accumulate so much dust and dirt because of all the available space. If this is one of the issues you are facing, you can use filler strips to cover the gap between the refrigerator and the cabinets.

Filler strips are thin pieces of wood, plastic, or silicone that can be cut to fit in these gaps. They are inexpensive and pretty easy to install too. You should be able to find filler strips in your local hardware store, and they can even find filler strips that will match your cabinetry.

Check out these filler strips on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Steel office kitchen with wooden floor and refrigerator, sink, apples, blender, kettle

The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances we have in the kitchen, but it is bulky, and it can look awkward sometimes. If you’re planning to remodel or redesign your kitchen, consider having your refrigerator look built-in by building custom cabinets around it. This will definitely make your kitchen look better and easier to move around in.

Are you looking to learn more about decorating your kitchen and your refrigerators? Look no further because we have some articles that might interest you:

What To Put In The Cabinet Above Your Fridge [Ideas Explored]

Can You Put A Fridge On Carpet?

How To Fill The Gap Between Fridge And Cabinet

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One comment

  1. Thanks for this great article. Do you have any zero clearance model you recommend? They are really hard to find.

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